What is Washing Soda? Everything You Need to Know

Washing soda is one of the most common cleaning products kept in the home by people across the globe. Usually associated with cleaning laundry, this cleaning product actually has many household uses, and you can also make it yourself. Although it is an everyday product, many people do not know exactly what washing soda is and the extent of its versatility. Here is everything you need to know about washing soda, including how to use it for cleaning laundry, alternative uses, and how you can make your own.

What is Washing Soda?

Also known as soda crystals, washing soda is sodium carbonate. It is a white, water-soluble salt that is extracted from the ashes of plants grown in soil that is sodium-rich. Other than its use as a detergent, sodium carbonate is used in the manufacture of glass, soaps, rayon, and paper. It is made using the Solvay method, which involves converting sodium chloride into sodium carbonate using carbon dioxide and ammonia.

What is the Difference Between Washing Soda and Baking Soda?

People often believe that washing soda and baking soda are the same things. This is because they look very similar, share some of the same household purposes, and have similar sounding chemical names. However, they are not the same thing and mistaking one for the other is potentially dangerous. According to Bren Did, there are some similarities between the two products as they are both natural substances. Washing powder is more abrasive and less soluble than baking soda, however. Also, baking soda has a neutral pH of 8, while washing soda has an alkaline pH of 11 which is a similar pH reading as ammonia cleaner. You can eat baking soda in small quantities, usually as an ingredient in something else, but you should never eat washing soda.

How to Use Washing Soda for Cleaning Laundry

There are three main ways that you can use washing soda for cleaning your laundry. The first is to use washing soda to clean your clothes in a washing machine. You add the amount of washing soda stated onto the packaging into either the detergent tray or directly into the barrel of the washing machine.

The second way that you can use washing soda to clean your laundry is to handwash your clothes in the sink. Always wear rubber gloves to protect your hands if this is your preferred method of cleaning laundry. Add the stated amount of washing soda to hot water. Soak your clothes for a while before pummelling them in the water and rubbing the fabric together between tour fingers on any areas with stains. Rinse the clothes in fresh, hot water to get rid of any washing soda residue.

Finally, you can use washing soda as a stain remover. According to Sustaining Our World, you can use washing soda to remove stains such as blood, tea, coffee, ink, and grease. It is recommended that you make a paste from equal parts of warm water and washing soda. Put on some rubber gloves before you start applying the mixture to your clothing. Dampen the stain and then add the paste to it before gently rubbing it into the fabric. For tough stains, you can soak clothes in a solution of 2 tablespoons of washing soda per gallon of water.

How to Make Washing Soda Yourself

Washing soda is widely available in stores and online. However, if your local store has run out of their stock of washing soda, it is possible to make it yourself at home, says Nature’s Nurture. To do this, you just need baking soda. Here are the steps to make homemade washing soda from baking soda:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit (200-degrees Celsius).
  2. Cover a baking tray or shallow pan with a layer of baking soda.
  3. Put into the oven for 15 minutes before removing and giving the tray a shake. This makes sure the baking soda bakes evenly.
  4. Return the tray to the oven for a further 15 minutes before removing from the oven for the final time.
  5. Check that the composition of the baking soda has changed.
  6. Baking soda is crystallized, powdery, and will clump together. On the other hand, washing soda does not clump easily and has a grainy and dull appearance.

Some Alternative Uses for Washing Soda

Although it is known as washing soda, sodium carbonate has many more uses than simply using it as a laundry detergent. This means it is one of the most versatile products you can have in your home. One Good Thing by Jillee suggests the following as just some of the alternative uses of washing soda:

  • Cleaning range tops – Make a solution of a ½ cup of washing soda with one gallon of warm water. Remove the range burners and wipe over the top of the range with the solution. Leave it to soak for 30 minutes as this will get rid of greasy build-up. Wipe clean and dry. If the stains are tough or dried-on, sprinkle the washing soda onto a damp sponge and then scrub over the stain.
  • Pots and pans – To remove grease and burned-on stains from pots, pans, and cookware, just add a few spoonfuls of washing soda and one squirt of dishwashing liquid to hot water. Add the solution to the pan and bring to the boil on the stove before simmering for 15 minutes. Drain the water and wipe clean. You should not use this cleaning method on aluminum cookware.
  • Removing tannin stains – Tannin leaves stains on kettles, cups, and insulated flasks. You can get rid of these stains by soaking the item in washing soda and hot water for at least one hour, but preferably overnight.
  • Dishwashing – A natural alternative to dishwashing liquid is washing soda. Just add some washing soda into the hot water. This is a great way to give you glasses back their sparkle.
  • Removing smells from chopping boards- Some ingredients can leave a lingering smell on your chopping board, such as onions and fish. One of the easiest ways to get rid of bad odors from a chopping board is to clean it with a washing soda solution.
  • Clearing drains -Pouring ¼ cup of washing soda down your drain followed by hot water will help to keep your drains clear. You should do this once a week to keep on top of things. If the drains are blocked, use a full cup of washing soda with three cups of boiling water. You may need to repeat this process two or three times.
  • Cleaning the bathroom – The natural abrasiveness makes washing soda the perfect cleaning product for your bathroom. It is also a good option because it soaks up bad odors, so it leaves your bathroom looking and smelling fresh. You can use a washing soda solution all [arts of your bathroom, including the floors. For tough stains on the toilet, apply washing soda directly and scrub with a sponge.
  • Freshening kitchen sponges and cloths – After a few uses, kitchen sponges and cloths can become greasy. Soaking them in a washing soda solution is a quick, cheap, and easy way of freshening them.
  • Windows and mirrors – Rather than wasting money on window cleaning, just use a mild washing soda solution with a splash of white vinegar. This will cut through the grease, clean away dirt, and leave your windows and mirrors sparkling.
  • Garden pest control – You can also use washing soda for several uses in the garden, and one of these is pest control. Add a ½ cup of washing soda to two gallons of cold water. Use the solution to spray your plants and trees as a deterrent to pests.
  • Concrete stains – If you have stains on concrete in your garden or on your driveway, it can make the exterior of your property look tired. You can remove these stains using washing soda. Just sprinkle washing soda liberally over the stain and then add a little water so that it forms a paste. Leave the paste on overnight. The following day, scrub the paste into the concrete using a wire brush. Remove the paste by hosing down and then wipe the concrete clean.
  • Cleaning garden tools – Use a wet, stiff, wire brush to scrub washing soda into your garden tools. This will get rid of stains, dirt, and grease. You can do the same thing with your barbecue grill and utensils.
  • Brightening up paintwork – Over time, paintwork in your home can begin to look a little dull. It may also have some stains. A quick and easy way to get rid of the stains and brighten up your paintwork is to clean them with a solution of washing soda and warm water.
  • Cleaning wicker furniture – Wicker furniture is a popular choice for gardens and conservatories. To keep wicker furniture at its best, wash the wicker regularly with a washing soda solution.
  • Carpet cleaning – You can use washing soda to clean your carpets in two different ways. For spills, such as wine stains, pour the washing soda directly onto the stain as soon as it happens as this will absorb the liquid. Give it a quick scrub with a damp cloth and your carpet is stain free. You can also use washing soda to get rid of odors in your carpet. Sprinkle it over your carpets an hour before vacuuming.
  • Silverware and silver jewelry – If your silverware or silver jewelry is losing its shine or has become tarnished, then soaking them in a solution of a ½ cup of washing soda with one gallon of warm water will help. After soaking for 15 minutes, remove from the solution and buff to remove the tarnishes and to give extra shine.
  • Cleaning blinds – To keep your Venetian blinds looking their best, use a washing soda solution regularly. Simply wipe the solution over the blinds and then dry thoroughly. Not only does this clean the blinds, but it also repels dust. An alternative way of cleaning your blinds is to take them down and soak them for 30 minutes in a washing soda solution in your bathtub.

Are There Any Dangers in Using Washing Soda?

According to Livestrong, washing soda is a potentially hazardous material. It warns of the following dangers:

  • Inhalation – You should never inhale washing soda because it will cause a burning sensation in the throat and nose. It also causes irritation to the respiratory tract and can potentially lead to pulmonary edema. In the case of repeated inhalation, a person may suffer from nasal congestion, tooth erosion, damage to the nasal septum, chest pain, and nosebleeds.
  • Eye damage – Do not get washing soda in your eyes as it can cause conjunctival edema and swelling. It can also cause irreparable damage to the cornea. You should wear protective goggles when using washing soda. If it gets in your eyes, rinse it out with cold water.
  • Skin irritation – Prolonged contact between the skin and sodium carbonate will cause skin irritation. It can also cause blisters and burns. Wearing protective gloves can reduce your risk of exposure to sodium bicarbonate. If your skin does come into contact with sodium carbonate, then rinse with plenty of soap and water.
  • Internal effects – Although washing soda is not toxic, it is corrosive. Therefore, you should not swallow sodium carbonate. Some potential side effects of ingesting washing soda are vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, pain in the throat or abdomen, and a drop in blood pressure. If you accidentally swallow washing soda, you should seek professional medical advice.

Washing Soda- The Final Verdict

Washing soda is the common name for sodium carbonate. Although this is used predominantly for laundry, it is a very versatile household product that you can use in many ways. However, you should always take care when using washing soda because of its abrasive and corrosive properties which are potentially harmful.

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